Last week I posted an article about Blue Cross Blue Shield and its agreement to pay families of autistic children a total of $1 million for behavioral therapy coverage. Although this settlement is a step in the right direction, health plans have a long way to go before children with special needs receive fair treatment.
Developmental problems are pervasive in their nature. They affect nearly every aspect of a child’s life. Some disorders, such as birth-trauma induced cerebral palsy, impact both the mental and the physical development of the child. As a result, these children often require specialized equipment, supplies, services, or devices able-bodied children do not need.
Unfortunately, health plans and insurance companies characterize such special requirements as not "medically necessary" – almost always at the plan administrator’s sole discretion – and deny these benefits. As a result, many families are forced to pay expenses out of pocket or to make the unsettling choice of forcing their child to do without the needed benefit. Compounding the insult is the fact that the law makes it exceedingly difficult to reverse the decision of the plan administrator.
One glaring example of the anti-consumer state of the law is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Originally designed as a measure to protect workers and ensure they would receive the promised benefits of their employment, a series of court decisions over the past two decades gave plan administrators tremendous authority to deny claims. Only very recently have some Courts begun ruling in favor of individuals instead of corporations.
The time period in which to challenge an adverse decision is usually very limited. If your health plan has denied a claim you believe you are entitled to, contact us to see if we can help.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.